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Hetts' historic tree lives on ... on the front porch

Staff writer

It’s not unusual for a driver idling past the Hett household on North Lincoln Street to slow down and take a long look at the chunk of tree trunk fashioned into a wood bench on the front porch.

Sometimes they ask Lanell or Aaron Hett if they made that bench, or even if the bench is made from a large pine tree that used to occupy the front yard some people still remember. The answer to both questions is yes.

Until 2011, a massive pine tree in their front yard reached higher than just about any other tree in the neighborhood. In fact, the tree was impressive enough that late last year a neighbor presented the Hetts with a framed photo of the standing pine tree as a gift.

The Hetts, whose home was built in 1873, have lived in their historic house since 1987. They rely on wood to heat it. However, the Hetts never wanted to cut down that tree for fuel.

The late Bud Hannaford used to stop by and encourage the Hetts never to cut the tree down.

“Bud used to say, ‘That tree is so huge, it’s historic,’” Lanell Hett said.

Unfortunately, pine wilt disease started killing the tree. The disease began at the top of the giant tree and began working its way down. The Hetts relented, and Aaron hauled the chain saw out of the garage. He started cutting it down in chunks, starting near the top. And when a gorgeous five-foot section thudded to the ground, Aaron eyeballed that piece of wood where it lay on the grass.

“My dad looked at it and said, ‘I think we can make a bench out of it,’” said Lindsay Hett.

The Hetts’ son Travis, who lives nearby and makes furniture, received much of the tree. The Hetts burned many slabs for heat for their home.

But the big section was going to remain. Lindsay removed the branches, and de-barked and sanded it. Aaron carved the bench seat with his chain saw, and Lindsay finished it off with a coat of varnish.

Aaron used his four-wheeler to hook a cable to the log, and using a winch he dragged it over to the right side of the front porch.

“That’s how we moved it,” Aaron said. “And it hasn’t moved since.”

Last modified Jan. 21, 2015

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